Staff and patients at the Geriatric and Psychiatric Hospitals are now much better prepared for evacuation from these facilities in case of an emergency.
This is as a result of simulation exercises held recently at both medical institutions under the coordination of the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Senior Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Karen Broome, explained that the simulations assisted the Ministry in determining how much time it would take to evacuate patients and the resources which were needed to effectively accomplish this.
“We have to be sure first of all that the patients understand what we are doing since without their cooperation we wouldn’t be able to do this successfully. We also have to look at our logistics, including the vehicles we will need and the routes that we will use to evacuate, not only to move them out of the hospitals but also the routes to the evacuation sites.”
Dr. Broome said that the Ministry’s primary objective in emergency situations such as hurricane, fire or flood, was to ensure the residents’ safety.
“Our priority is the management of our residents in terms of making sure that they are in a safe place, making sure that they are fed and that they are comfortable,” she stated.
The medical doctor noted that while it was expected that the anxiety levels of patients would rise in these circumstances, preparation was key to ensuring that anxiety was kept in check.
“It is not only the elderly and those with other medical conditions who may get anxious during an emergency. The general public as a whole gets anxious when there is a hazard. The importance of preparation cannot be stressed enough.
“Once you have adequate water, food supplies and safe shelter, your anxiety levels tend to drop and so we make sure we are well prepared for any eventuality.”
Dr. Broome said that staff training was an important part of the process, disclosing that there was continuous training in areas such as mass casualty management, incident command system, basic life support and first aid.
Staff also participated in specific disaster management courses sponsored by agencies such as the Department of Emergency Management. The Senior Medical Officer said that the ministry was currently working towards getting 60 staff members trained in damage assessment. The Royal Barbados Police Force and the Barbados Defence Force assisted in carrying out the simulation exercises.